by Angie Lange, Owner & Director of Bright Beginnings Child Enrichment Center in Scribner, NE
I’m a mom of two biological kids, but in my heart, I feel like I have hundreds.
Fellow child care teachers and facility owners can back me up. It’s not just a job to us. I would do anything for these kiddos, just like I would my own.
My center, Bright Beginnings, is open from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. Some of the kids are with me for ten or 11 hours a day. We are licensed for 41 kids, so since we opened in 2009, many families have come through our doors. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly.
Just like being a mom, our job doesn’t stop in the evening after we’ve cleaned, sanitized and put everything away.
On a recent Sunday, I got a text from the mom of one of my toddlers. She sent a video of her two-year-old daughter counting from one to 15. She thanked me over and over and said, “It melts my heart what you have taught her!”
We have been working on counting with her daughter, and we love every minute of it. I texted her back and said she made my whole Sunday.
I wish parents knew how much of an impact their kids have on us. How their smiles make us smile. How their squeals delight us, and their hugs fill us up. How we live for seeing those light bulb moments of growth and hitting those milestones.
Another mom recently sent me a photo of her son hitting his first triple in a baseball game. He was the very first infant we cared for. My office walls are covered with photos of my kids, including him. They mean the world to me.
I was originally going to be the cook at Bright Beginnings when it opened, but I had a lot of experience with kids and I quickly became its director. Lisa, our curriculum director, and I have been leading the center ever since, and we often talk about how we want to raise the bar on child care, because we believe that our kiddos deserve the best.
Once I heard about Step Up to Quality, we decided to go for it. I describe Step Up to Quality as a system that helps the best child care facilities become better. I almost think it should be mandatory. It’s worth it for our kids.
For Bright Beginnings, it was a no-brainer to decide to participate. It was a bit overwhelming at first, and it was a lot of work. We had a few bumps in the road but we took our time with it and worked at our pace.
Step Up to Quality helped us focus on the level of education we were offering, and it helped us improve our environment rating scale measurements (ITERS and ECERS). We had a great foundation to start from, and the key for us was our staff. My team is the absolute best and their commitment to our kids made it easy for us to improve on these items.
When you enroll in Step Up to Quality, you are almost automatically at a Step 2 (out of five) once you complete the paperwork, set up process and initial training. Where it gets real is the observation and visit from a Step Up to Quality staff member – that’s when you can graduate up to a Step 3.
You can imagine how emotional I was when after all our hard work, we actually moved up two steps to a four! It was incredible news, and even better things started happening for us.
We were profiled in the Fremont newspaper. I started getting more calls from new parents about our program. We have a waiting list of families. And, much better candidates for jobs were coming in to interview.
Most importantly, I believe our kiddos know the depth of our love for them. We will never stop improving for them. We are already preparing for our Step 5 rating, I’ve been going back to school, and we are constantly taking classes and reading new methods on early childhood education. We want to show our kids that even big people are always learning, and hopefully that inspires them to be lifelong learners, too.